The Kansas City Royals, Playing on anger and embarrassment, smacked the world champion New York Yankees all over Royals Stadium yesterday and won, 10-4, to even the American League payoffs at a game apiece.
"We were flat out embarrassed after the first game," said Royal George Brett.
So Brett opened the game with the first of 16 Royal hits, the same number the Yanks had inflicted on them the night before.
Even the little major leaguer, 5-foot-4 Fred Patek, got in the act, blasting a 400-foot two-run home run.
That's the first time I ever stood at home plate and took time to admire a home run," Patek said with a grin. "I guess I don't have what you'd call a wheelhouse but I hit that one real nice."
Real nice is how the Royals felt all day.
"These New York fellas got the deck stacked against us with all their free agents," said Hal McRae. "We don't believe in that; we grow our own. But we'll fight'em any way they want it.
"We're a scrappy club and we're going to give'em hell all the way."
The Royals played aggressively. Willie White, former All-America schoolboy football player, blasted Thurman Munson at home plate and gave him a couple of stitches in the chin.
Huge Clint Hurdle's hard slide into Graig Nettles helped produce a throwing error that led to two early runs. Reliever Al Hrabosky threw a couple of brush-back pitches under Yankee caps. In all, the Royals announced that there were two teams on the field.
When Hrabosky fanned Reggie Jackson to end the game, the 41,158 fans let out a shoop of relief. Kansas City may have been a Yankee farm club for generations, but the farm kids have grown up with chips on their shoulders.
"After Reggie hit that homer off me the night before, I was really glad to see him coming to the plate," said the Mad Hungarian. "I wanted to put some extra hurt in his hip pocket."
The Royals feel they are in a prime spot to give the Yanks a lasting hotfood. The Kansas Citians' best Yankee beater, Paul Splittorff (19-11), will face erratic Catfish Hunter in the third game in Yankee Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Although the Yanks have scheduled Ron Guidry for game four, the Royals still like their long-range prospects. A fifth game, like the kind they have lost to New York the last two years, probably would bring them another shot at Ed Figueroa - the 10 game winner they blasted off the mound yesterday in one-plus inning.
"We've faced Figgy so often that we know him inside out," said Brett, who went 13 for 13 against Figueroa one season. "When he drops sidearm, it's a slider. Overhand, it's either the gasser (fastball) or curve."
This was a delightfully screwball slugfest. In the seventh, after Pete LaCock doubled, Hurdle tripled and Patek homered to ice the game, 8-2, the Royals actually kept batting after they had made their third out.
Brett strolled to the plate after the inning should have ended. Only at the last instant, before the pitch, was home plate umpire Rich Garcia's attention drawn to the fact that this was an extra batter.
"I've been walking back to the dugout after our second out of the inning all year, thinking it was the third out. So, I figured I was just wrong again, only in the other direction," said Brett. "I count outs worse than anybody you know."
On a day when Patek can stand and admire home runs, anything can happen. Yesterday most of it did.
The Yanks, who got three RBI from their No. 9-hitter, Bucky Dent, started the eighth inning with three straight singles on 2-0 pitches.
"I figured if that could happen, no lead was safe," said Royal Manager Whitey Herzog. That's when he motioned for Hrabosky, who struggled out of the inning, then moved down the Yanks in the ninth.
This may have been the first day in three months when the Yanks wished they had Billy Martin back. The exmanager had a bex on Royal pitchering him a gutless quitter and other compliments. Gura hated Martin so badly that it destroyed his control and manager had a hex on Royal pitcher Larry Gura - bad-mounting him, calling him a gutless quitter and other his knack of changing speeds. The Yanks had owned him in these playoffs the last two years.
Gura worked 6 1/2 creditable innings, leaving with a 5-2 lead. For the second day in a row, the underdog pitcher had ended up the winner.
In the last four years, after Jim Palmer, the two winningest pitchers in the AL have been Dennis Leonard and Figueroa. But neither can pitch a lick in October. Leonard, beaten in the first game, has a 6.45 playoff earned-run average. Figueroa is worse, with a 7.30 mark in his three years of postseason play with the Yanks. It was a Martin axion to avoid pitching Figneroa in any playoff or Series game if at all possible.
Herzog was mystified by his team's slugging turnaround."I didn't give'em lectures. I figured nobody knew worse than they did how bad they stunk up the joint the night before.
"I never know what we're going to do anyway. For four years its been that way. One day we look like we'll never get another hit, then the next game we get 15.
"Consistency is always our problem."
Against the Yanks, the Royals have no problems with intensity. If the teams' mutual feeling is not quite loathing, it is far from love.
"Both teams are aggressive," said Brett, "but we're both more aggressive against each other than anyone else. That's never going to cease. We've got too many memories of each other. Whenever a pitch comes by your chin, you think back and wonder, "Let's see, what did I once do to this guy?"
This was a perfect game for simmering animosity. As soon as Bucky Dent's throwing error and a two-run single by Frank White led to a four-run Royal second inning and a 5-0 lead, the teams had little to do for the next two hours except giare at each other and think bad thoughts about past encounters.
The only exception was New York's Munson, the catcher on whom the Royals have declared all-out war with a blitz of stolen bases, bunts and high slides.
Munson was mad at both teams. In the seventh, the Yank captain glared at base runner Mickey Rivers for missing a sign and crossing him up, making Munson pop up in the subsequent confusion. Munson extended his menacing looks to include both Yank base coaches.
On the other hand, that might be best for the Yanks. The more they fight each other, history says, the better they play.